Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A minimum of sound to a maximum of sense

Those are the words of Mark Twain.

Makes sense.

Why should it take five pages to say what was clearly stated previously in one page.

Our local school district is considering a new policy draft this week that will, if approved by the local school board, replace the previous working document that is already in place.  The existing policy is one page long and has not been challenged since 1996.  The new draft was not created out of public outcry but apparently was suggested by the attorneys.  The new draft is five pages long.

Part of the five pages reads:

The school district’s buildings and other school properties are an asset of the citizens of the Joint School District, and it is the desire of the Board of Trustees to make them available to responsible individuals and organizations as authorized by policies of the district and the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Idaho, and the statutes, both federal and state, as are applicable. The Board of Trustees is mindful of the Federal Constitution and the First Amendment thereof and the State Constitution of the State of Idaho with particular reference to Article IX, Section 5. In order to preclude an apparent or actual entanglement with sectarian or religious beliefs or philosophies, and further to avoid the appearance of underwriting sectarian beliefs or philosophies, to provide for the avoidance of an establishment clause violation, and further to preclude the use by sectarian organizations for religious worship services
that would implicate the Board of Trustees in the promotion of religion or a particular religious sect, denomination or group, the Board has determined there is a compelling State interest to limit uses by sectarian or religious organizations to occasional uses (but not prolonged uses nor “religious worship services”) at the same fee schedule established pursuant to this policy.
It goes on like that for several pages. Of course our school board is "mindful of the Federal Constitution" but do we need to put that in a public use policy statement?

Previously the first sentence read:

The superintendent of schools is hereby authorized to determine rental fees to be assessed for the usage of school facilities and property and may establish procedures for such usage. The superintendent also has the authority to reject any or all applications for rental or use of district facilities.

Those are the words that have been in place since 1996.

To put all of this in perspective this school district is in a very small community where the public school facilities are the largest buildings in the area and the only place that can accommodate a large gathering. 

Small communities like this one need the flexibility of being able to make decisions based on what is best for their individual communities. A short concise "Use" policy is the way to go.  In the original document it basically said the Superintendent needs to approve the use and the group using the facilities understand that if they break it they buy it.  This leaves the authority in the hands of the local school board of trustees and the superintendent and lets the people using the facility know that they are responsible for their actions while using the facility.  Simple.

“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” – Bruce Lee

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